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Norman, J. (2003). Commentary on "An example from child analysis"*. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 84(4):816-819.

(2003). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 84(4):816-819

Commentary on "An example from child analysis"* Related Papers

Johan Norman

I enjoyed reading Jill Miller's paper, ‘An example from child analysis’, throughout which her honesty and sincerity are clearly evident. I would, however, like to highlight some areas where our understanding and style of analysis differ.

Confusion or infantile transference?

In Miller's complex report, Julia, the 10-year-old analysand, comes to her session with a secret. Both the analyst and the reader are told this secret at the end of the session—that a parallel cognitive treatment has now been terminated. This treatment had previously reduced the frequency of analysis from four to three sessions per week, and its subsequent termination arouses new expectations that the frequency of Julia's analysis could be once more increased. However, it also serves to highlight the possibility of the beginning of the end of the sessions. After five years of treatment, the parents are anxious for the analysis to finish. Julia has this in her mind, but she is probably not consciously aware of it on attending the session.

In the waiting room before the session begins, Julia hides under the table, which is unusual behaviour for her. In my view, this is a beautiful example of the uncertainty that is a precondition for the analytical work: there is the analysand's reality, external and psychic, known by neither the analysand nor the analyst when the session begins.

To this point, I think that Miller and I may share the same view, but it is once the session is under way that I think our analytic aims differ. My impression is that Miller's aim is to work with the analysand's conscious awareness in order to get her out of a confusion. My view, however, is that what can be seen and felt as confusion from the vertex of conscious, secondary-process thinking rather can be seen as a mental state coloured by infantile transference that can be worked out and understood as meaningful. It is present, here and now, and has to become emotionally known in the relationship between the analysand and analyst, received and transformed in the analyst's containment, so that this part of the analysand's reality can be integrated in a bearable form in the analysand's mental functioning.


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